Sardinia’s Emerald Coast is a siren, luring luxury vacationers seeking to enjoy its emerald green waters and chic lifestyle. But what keeps them there is just how easy it is to slip into relax mode. Beautiful waters and landscape do that to you.
What keeps people coming back isn’t just the luxury. It’s the life style. Sardinia is ranked as one of only five “Blue Zones” in the world for its longer-than-norm life spans, thanks to a centuries-old culture of slow living, clean air, and locavore cusine.
Where and how to recharge and relax on the Emerald Coast
Destination Porto Cervo
Porto Cervo is the spot to moor for the week if you’re looking for a luxury getaway in Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda. Once you’ve dropped your bags, and gotten over the amazing color of the water, it’s worth taking an afternoon to explore Piazzetta di Porto Cervo.
The piazzetta is the town center where you’ll find the best shopping and people watching. The small piazza is home to some of Europe’s best boutiques from Bulgari and Balenciaga to Versace and Valentina, and concept store Mood and Rossana Orlandi, and of course usual suspects Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Eres, Cartier and Roberto Cavalli.
If I’m not on the beach at the hotel (and believe me, it’s hard to leave), I spend most of our time going from beach to beach- Principe, Celvia, Cappricioli and more. Bring a beach umbrella, towels and some change for parking and snacks. Divers head Cannigione, a vast stretch of beautiful sands and pristine beach just west east of Porto Cervo. The modern port town is a great spot for scuba diving or snorkeling.
If beaches bore you, kick it into high gear on the Pevero Health Trail, an eight-mile hiking and biking trail. Starting from the Romazzino, the trail includes pedicured paths that wind around the Pevero Golf Course. For those looking for a power workout, there are inclines and fitness stations at each kilometer.
Want something different less pedicured? Drive out to San Pantaleo, a tiny mountain village that has been existed for centuries.
Tables to Book
Everyone who is anyone is at a restaurant to the wee hours of the evening, whether in Porto Cervo, Porto Rotondo and Poltu Quatu. These are the jewels of Costa Smeralda, beautiful curated towns of urban planning, luxury brands, and fine dining. By day, they are bustling with families and friends all looking to socialize, by evening, even more so- they are the nightlife.
The tables to book are Quattro passi Al Pescatore, one of the most coveted in Porto Cervo. Chef Antonio Mellino makes up indredible dishes with fresh local fish and local tradition.ConFusion Porto Cervo Michelin star and Italo Bassi, famed for his tenure at Enoteca Pinchiorri. Expect Italian tradition and whim and don’t forget to check out his Bubble Bar, a champagne lounge. Matsuhisa at Cala di Volpe anyone? Meravigliosa, by chef Andrea Berton, with live performances.
Need more? Just around the bend is Porto Rotondo with local favorites Lu Stazzu , gorgeous bayside, cuisne is Gallura, local and traditional. Da Giovannino., a Porto Rotondo classic, great wine bar. Or check out Somu in San Pantaleo.
Champagne dreams and caviar wishes? Book a table at Nikki Beach, a long-time fave for the jetset or dance all night at Ritual Club, in its surreal setting in the granite rocks. Rock DJ Beach vibes at Blue Beach Club in Porto Rotondo.
Where and How
My favorite hotels are Hotel Romazzino, with its private beach, and Hotel Cala di Volpe, a mecca for those who want to keep a low profile while enjoying the Costa Smeralda’s sun and sand. Both hotels have beach access, private pools, outdoor sports and incredible restaurants that host Michelin star chefs. And you’ll never really need to leave.
Arriving in Costa Smeralda is always epic but how to get there? You can fly from any of Italy’s major airports (as well as international hubs) to Olbia, take a ferry from Civitavecchia or sail your yacht to Porto Cervo and Porto Rotondo, the two port cities.
A version article first appeared in Marriott Bonvoy Traveller, July 2019.